Transcendence And Transgression In Toni Morrison's Sula

1468 words - 6 pages

The Black women writers like Alice Walker, Paule Marshall, Toni Cade Banbara and Toni Morrison have always propagated the black feminist consciousness through their works. By giving voice to the voiceless, these writers renounce all the negative stereotypical images of black women. Morrison is an important writer among the league who has always startled her readers with her creative powers by giving her work such a finesse that one feels engulfed in her storyline. Awarded the Nobel Prize in 1993, her novels are replete with African American cultural aura : myths, symbols, festivals and the name that she assigns to her characters. Sula (1973) is the second novel of Toni Morrison which is set in her Medallion, Ohio. The novel involved a lot of critical attention as far as her depiction of Sula is concerned. Sula, the protagonist of this eponymous novel, is unlike the other female protagonists for the way she attains her personal identity is quite unusual. She is not a conventional woman who accepts the societal laws and norms wholeheartedly but her heroism lies in her way of abrogating such societal pressures. She challenges all such patriarchal paradigms that aim at belittling black women. The birth of the community “Bottom” directs us to the notions of racism prevalent in America. The name Bottom is ironic in the sense that it is high up the hills and hence believed to be a “nigger joke”. The master outwits his slave by offering him such land where the living was tiresome.
Black female is considered as a butt of ridicule for both White and Black males. All the confinements and rules are for her and she ought to obey them without raising her eyebrows. She is more like a machine than a human being bound to perform all the chores wilfully. Sula is an attack on all such notions wherein the protagonist aims for her self attainment by denying to fall under the categorization that is assigned to her. The friendhip between Nel and Sula is an attack on the cliché of male – female friendship. Through their friendship, Morrison presents her critical stance towards heterosexuality that belies the domination of men and suppression of female. However, Nel does fall into such relationship which ultimately leads to her alienation as a result of her submission. Sula on the other hand, refuses to marry as she believes marriage is nothing but the extermination of one’s identity. After returning to Medalliion, Eva-her grandmother, asks her about her marriage, Sula replies, “I don’t want to make somebodyelse. I want to make myself.” She abjures marriage, children and all such attachments that pose limitation to the role of black women. She enters the church scantily dressed and moreover, she sends her grandmother to the old folks home thus subverting the doctrines of the role of daughters and wives. Notwithstanding her transgression, the community considers her as a pariah and outlaw. What is considered as a bold departure by black males Sula’s interracial sex...

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